Jan. 17, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - West Coast Conference women's basketball action heats up this weekend as the Santa Clara Broncos host a pair of big contests. First, the Broncos (10-8, 2-1) host the San Diego Toreros (14-3, 3-0) in a battle between two of the conference's top squads Thursday night at 7 p.m., before closing out weekend action Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the San Francisco Dons (7-11, 1-2).
Last Week for the Broncos
Santa Clara came away with a split in the Pacific Northwest last weekend, as the squad dropped a heart-breaking 78-73 overtime decision to the Gonzaga Bulldogs Thursday night. SCU rebounded on Saturday, though, running away from the Portland Pilots with an 81-71 victory at the Chiles Center. Jen Gottschalk averaged 21.5 points over the weekend, including a career-high 30 against the Bulldogs, including eight rebounds.
Scouting San Diego
San Diego (14-3, 3-0) is currently riding a four-game winning streak heading into Thursday night's game, and is one of two remaining undefeated teams in West Coast Conference play, along with Gonzaga. The Toreros pulled out a pair of wins last weekend against Southern California rivals Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, and are led offensively by Amber Sprague's 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, as well as Kelly Winther's 10.3 ppg and Amanda Rego's 9.4 points and 7.9 assists a game.
All-Time vs. San Diego
The Broncos hold a 29-18 edge in the overall series with the Toreros. The teams split last year's pair of games, each capturing a win in the other's home arena. San Diego's second-half comeback helped them to an 85-70 win at the Leavey Center, while the Broncos took a 67-63 decision at the Jenny Craig Pavilion two weeks later.
Scouting San Francisco
San Francisco (7-11, 1-2) comes into Saturday's contest at the Leavey Center off of a weekend which saw the team earn its first WCC win, defeating Pepperdine 77-65 last Saturday. The Dons are led offensively by the 14.7 points a game by Dominique Carter, while Nickie Warren paces the squad with 6.2 rebounds a game and adds 8.4 points a game as well.
All-Time vs. San Francisco
The Broncos hold a 40-31 advantage over the Dons in the all-time series between the two schools, including victories in all three of last season's matchups. After sweeping the regular-season series with a 66-61 win at War Memorial Gym and a 67-53 victory at the Leavey Center, the Broncos staved off an upset at the hands of USF at the WCC Tournament in Spokane in March. Chandice Cronk's three-pointer with three seconds to play sent the contest into overtime, where the Broncos prevailed 75-65 to advance to the WCC Championship Game.
Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson
In her fifth season as the head coach at Santa Clara, Michelle Bento-Jackson has compiled a career record of 75-65 (34-25 WCC), and last season brought home not only her first WCC regular-season title and a bid to the WNIT but was also named WCC Coach of the Year for the first time. Bento-Jackson also led the Broncos to the WCC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005. In her first season on the Mission Campus, Bento-Jackson guided the Broncos to a 20-11 record and a 9-5 WCC mark, earning a WNIT bid. She joined Santa Clara after serving on the women's basketball coaching staff at Syracuse for four seasons, and before that spent two seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, Fresno State. At Fresno State Bento-Jackson was a two-sport star in basketball and softball, leading the Bulldogs the the WNIT in 1990 and in 1992 being named to the College World Series All-Tournament team.
Among the National Leaders
Through the national statistics of Jan. 7, Santa Clara leads the nation in both three-pointers made (175) and three-pointers made per game (9.7). The Broncos are also second with a 41.4% three-point shooting percentage, and 27th with 16.6 assists per game. SCU is also 46th with a 73.4% success rate from the free-throw line.
Individually, Chandice Cronk leads all players in the country with 67 three-pointers and 3.7 threes made a game, and is ninth in the nation with a 46.9% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also 36th in the nation with a 41.3% mark, tied for 37th with 2.4 three-pointers per game, and tied for 30th with 5.3 assists per game.
In the WCC
Through the action of Jan. 7 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in scoring with 71.8 points a game, and lead in three-point shooting, making 41.4% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with 9.7 threes made a gameand with 16.55 per game, and are second with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.84.
Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 16.7 points a game, and Ashley Graham sits eighth with her 11.8 points a game. Forward Jen Gottschalk sits atop the WCC with a 58.8% mark from the field and is seventh with 6.2 rebounds a game and ninth with 11.5 points a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.7 three-pointers made a game and 46.9% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is fourth with 41.3% three-point shooting. Cronk is also fourth in the conference with an 80.0% free-throw shooting rate, and Graham is second in the WCC with 5.28 assists a game, and fourth with a 1.61 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is fourth with 2.24 steals a game.
Another Career Day
Just when they thought she couldn't top herself, Jen Gottschalk went and blew everyone away last Thursday at Gonzaga. After scoring a career-high 27 points at Saint mary's two weeks ago, Gottschalk rolled into Spokane and dominated the Bulldogs inside to the tune of 30 points and eight rebounds. Gottschalk also shot a combined 19-for-24 over the weekend, upping her WCC-leading field-goal percentage to 58.8% and cracking the top ten in scoring, standing ninth with 11.5 points a game to go with her sixth-best total of 6.2 rebounds a game.
Sharing Is Caring!
Led by the selfless play of point guard Ashley Graham, who is second in the WCC with 5.28 assists per game, the Broncos lead the WCC and are 27th in the nation with 16.56 assists per game. Besides Graham's total, guards Tracey Walker (2.94 apg) and Anna Martin (2.61 apg) and forward Jen Gottschalk (1.88 apg) have also joined in the sharing, creating numerous opportunities for the Bronco offense, which explains the team's WCC-leading 71.8 points a game.
A Crimson Bolt
Junior guard Chandice Cronk continues to sit atop the WCC rankings as its leading scorer with 16.7 points per game. The Wasilla, Alaska native not only leads the league in scoring, but is also the nation's top gunner, leading the NCAA with 3.7 three-pointers per game and a total of 67 threes made on the year. Cronk scored 16 points in last Saturday's win at Portland, and will look to pile on more points this weekend against the Toreros and the Dons.
Crusin' And Bruisin'
Senior forward Kasey Monteith has been a key component to SCU's superb trio of post players this season, along with Jen Gottschalk and Ashley Gonnerman. Mostly coming off the bench, Monteith has seen action in all 18 games this year, and is averaging 6.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a game, and this past Saturday, was a crucial part of SCU's win at Portland, matching her career-high with 16 points to help lead the Broncos to the win.
Helping Where She Can
A sparkplug off the bench for the Broncos, junior guard Tracey Walker has proven time and again that she can do anything and everything possible to help the Bronco cause. On the season, Walker is averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds over 25.1 minutes per game. This past weekend, she scored eight points off the bench to go with five rebounds at Gonzaga before scoring seven points and dishing out six assists at Portland.
Firing From All Cylinders
During head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson's tenure at SCU, the Broncos have forged a reputation as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, and so far this season have cemented that notion. The Broncos have already hit 175-of-423 attempts from beyond the arc (41.4%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 67 threes. SCU also gets long-range help from guard Ashley Graham, the school's all-time second-most accurate three-point shooter with a career mark of 44.1%. Graham also was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc against No. 22 BYU on Nov. 22, while forward Jen Gottschalk even got in on the act, hitting both of her three-point attempts in Dec. 9's 80-73 win over Fresno State.
Next 1,000-Point Clubber
The Broncos have added a new member to the program's "1,000 Point Club" in each of the past two seasons, as Quinn Thomas (2005) and Michelle Cozad (2006) became the 14th and 15th members of the prestigious club. This season, senior guard Ashley Graham is on pace to become the 16th member, as she currently stands at 914 career points with 11 regular-season contests and at least one postseason game remaining. As long as Graham averages at least 7.2 points a game in the remaining 12 contests, she will assure herself a spot in the prestigious club.
In WCC play
Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 194-173 (.529) record against conference opponents, including last season's 11-3 mark. SCU's best conference showing came in the 1990-91 season, in which Caren Horstmeyer's Broncos ran away with the WCC title with a 13-1 record.
Also, since finishing 5-9 in WCC play in 1989-90, the Broncos have finished above .500 in 15 of the last 16 conference seasons.
SCU At Home
The Broncos hold an all-time mark of 255-135 (.654) in games held at the Leavey Center, dating back to the Toso Pavilion days in 1979-80. Since going 6-8 at home in the 1995-96 season, the Broncos have only had one sub-.500 season at home since then, when the injury-ravaged 2003-04 team went 3-13. Last year's Broncos went 11-3 at the Leavey Center, and three times in program history SCU has posted unblemished marks at home, going 17-0 in 1990-91, 15-0 in 1997-98, and 12-0 in 2001-02.